A prominent local conservative activist was fired as the San Antonio chapter leader of anti-Muslim group ACT for America after organizing a meeting last week on how to “shut mosques down,” the San Antonio Express-News reported.
This explicit phrasing used by retired Air Force Lt. Col. Roy White in his public promotion of the event pushed the group, which describes itself as “the NRA of national security” and believes Islamic sharia law presents an imminent threat to American society, to cut ties.
“The reason we were forced to let Lt. Col. White go was because he advertised on the Internet a chapter meeting to learn how to ‘shut mosques down,’” the national group said in a Friday email to supporters obtained by the Express-News.
The email praised White as “one of our best chapter leaders” and a “great patriot” but said he was dismissed “for legal and public reasons” after declining an order to cancel the meeting, according to the newspaper.
White, ACT and the local San Antonio chapter did not immediately respond Monday to TPM’s emails and calls requesting comment.
As of Monday morning, the San Antonio chapter’s website had no mention of the Feb. 23 meeting with Karen Lugo, author of “Mosques in America,” a guide to putting an end to “Islamist cultural schemes” like “mosque building” and creating “Muslim settlements” across the United States.
An EventBrite page for the event was still live, however. It promised attendees that Lugo would provide the answers to questions like “How many Mosques are there in the United States?” and “What do local officials need to know in order to use existing laws and codes to effectively push back?”
At the tail end of the Obama administration, the Justice Department had filed several lawsuits alleging that various communities had violated Muslims’ constitutional right to worship by invoking obscure land use statutes to block mosque construction.
White, a Southwest Airlines pilot and leader of the Truth in Texas Textbooks Coalition, which seeks changes to alter perceived “errors” in state textbooks, had invited Lugo to speak at ACT events before. He has also made incendiary claims in his capacity as a chapter leader for the organization, recently telling the Washington Post that members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a national civil rights group, are “jihadists wearing suits.”
It appears that the sin that led to White’s ouster was his overly direct language about what he hoped to achieve.
In a second statement released Friday and obtained by the Express-News, ACT insisted it is “not in the business of shutting down any place of worship based on what religion it houses. We are in the business of making sure no house of worship incites violence in the name of religion, nor harbors or supports terrorists who wish our destruction.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center designates ACT as a hate group and its founder, Brigitte Gabriel, has argued that American Muslims should be barred from serving in public office because she believes they pose a security risk.
The San Antonio chapter is hardly shy about painting Muslim institutions as potential threats, either. Its website contains a tab with a link to IslamicFinder.org, a website that allows members to “see the mosques and Islamic schools and businesses near you.”
Despite its extreme views, ACT has found a firm foothold at the highest levels of government, hosting a Capitol Hill conference last year. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Pete King (R-NY) were among the 10 GOP leaders who spoke at the event. President Donald Trump’s ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn also serves as an adviser to the group’s board.